The road woes continued for the Dallas Stars Thursday in Pittsburgh. The Stars lost their fifth straight game away from home (0-3-2), falling 6-2 to the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena.
The Stars played well for most of the night, going toe-to-toe with the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Stars were pressing hard for the game-tying goal in the third period when the game went sideways, and the Penguins scored three goals in the final three-and-a-half minutes to blow it open.
"I thought we played a pretty sound one and got the opportunities we needed to get, but it's tough to win when you are only scoring one or two goals a night," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "We were pressing late in the game, it was tight, and we had three or four opportunities to tie the game."
The Stars, who fell to 9-10-6 on the season, have scored just ten goals over the past five games and have been held to two goals or fewer in six of their past nine games. They've scored 18 goals in regulation over the past nine games. Their goals-against average climbed to 3.40 per game, which ranks last in the league and their goal differential is now minus-22, which also ranks last in the league.
"We all take pride in here, and that's just not good enough. It's frustrating," said Stars forward Tyler Seguin. "We have to dig deep. We're not digging deep enough right now. From our best players to everybody, we have to dig deeper, especially in those big moments and find ways to win hockey games."
Seguin and Devin Shore scored the Dallas goals, and Antti Niemi stopped 34 of 39 shots.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 33 shots for the Penguins, who got a big game from their top line of Conor Sheary (one goal, one assist), Sidney Crosby (one goal, two assists) and Patric Hornqvist (one goal, one assist).
"I thought the top line was really good," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "I thought they were dynamic, they used their speed, they were dangerous off the rush, and they were on the puck in the offensive zone."
The Penguins took a 1-0 lead with the two teams playing four-on-four. Defenseman Ian Cole scored from the point at 8:47 of the first period.
The Stars answered less than three minutes later when Stephen Johns put a shot on net from the right circle, and it deflected into the net off the skate of Shore.
Pittsburgh took a 2-1 lead at 7:43 into the second period with a five-on-three power play goal. Hornqvist scored on a backhand shot from the slot. The Stars answered on a five-on-four power play less than four minutes later when Jason Spezza set up Seguin, who scored from just below the left circle to make it a 2-2 game at the 11:21 mark.
Pittsburgh went ahead 3-2 with 22 seconds left in the second on a slick goal by Crosby, who put a shot on net from below the goal line, picked off the rebound out of midair and then banked it into the net off the back of Niemi.
"I was just trying to get the puck between him and the net and hope for a good bounce," Crosby said. "I got one there."
The Stars had their chances in the third. Fleury stopped a great bid by Brett Ritchie from the slot and in the scramble that followed Penguins defenders blocked shots by Johns and Antoine Roussel. Fleury came up big later in the period, turning away a rebound chance by Cody Eakin.
The Penguins extended the lead to 4-2 with a goal off an odd-man rush. Crosby backhanded the puck to Sheary, who put it into the open side of the net to make it 4-2 with 3:38 remaining.
The Stars pulled Niemi for an extra attacker, and Eric Fehr scored to make it 5-2 just 52 seconds after the Sheary goal and with Niemi back in the net, Nick Bonino scored off a rebound to make it 6-2.
*The Stars lost consecutive games in regulation for just the second time this season.
*The Stars are 3-7-4 on the road this season.
*The Penguins outshot the Stars 40-35 and had a 63-62 edge in shot attempts.
*Brett Ritchie led the Stars with 5 shots on goal and 7 shot attempts.
*The Stars were 1-3 on the power play and 4-5 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 25 of 60 faceoffs (42 percent).
*Jamie Benn won 5 of 7 faceoffs (71 percent). Jason Spezza won 7 of 15 (47 percent). Radek Faksa won 7 of 18 (39 percent). Cody Eakin won 1 of 11 (9 percent).
*Stars coach Lindy Ruff dressed 11 forwards and 7 defensemen in the game.
*John Klingberg led the Stars with 22:09 of ice time.
*Stephen Johns, who is from the Pittsburgh area, played his first game against the Penguins and registered one assist.
The Stars wrap up their four-game road trip at Colorado Saturday. The Stars are 1-1-0 against the Avalanche this season, losing 6-5 at Colorado on Oct. 15 and winning 3-2 in Dallas on Nov. 17.
Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Tyler Seguin
Patrick Sharp - Jason Spezza - Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Brett Ritchie
Lauri Korpikoski - Devin Shore
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Jordie Benn - Julius Honka
Dan Hamhuis - Stephen Johns
Scratched: Patrik Nemeth, Curtis McKenzie, Adam Cracknell
Injured: Johnny Oduya (lower body), Jiri Hudler (illness), Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip)
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official Astatements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.